Early on, with a profound fascination of all things creative, Tom immersed himself in the study of painting and design at the Chicago Arts Institute and eventually transitioned to photography. He found himself in great demand by several high profile rock and roll stars. Ironically, he applied both his photographic and graphic design skills in the creation of over 80 album covers, including the iconic Déjà Vu album cover with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Other notable groups Tom collaborated with were the Rolling Stones, Steppenwolf, Joni Mitchell, Poco, Crazy Horse, The Mamas and the Papas, B.B. King, and The Three Tenors. He developed relationships with entertainers that have created opportunities for many years to follow.
All artists look for inspiration in their subjects. In the '70s Tom was hired by the Peace Corp with key shooting assignments in the Congo. From Africa he traveled to Paris and London where he absorbed the art scene. There he experimented with light and shadow, developing techniques that remain innovative and contemporary in the current artistic photography seen today.
Ready to have a more permanent location Tom returned to California and set up a studio on the Monterey Peninsula. He continues to work with people, but also continues his passion for still-life, landscape and advertising photography. From the saturated color palette of Mexico to the ethereal hues and shadows of Venice, Tom revels in the process of creativity. In fact, his photos are simply a reflection of his unbridled approach to life. "Whether a still life or of people, each photograph, represents a burst of excitement," he says. Just like Tom at work.
"I photographed over 65 rock and roll album covers. I was part of a small group of photographers who worked with record companies. Most of the time I was contacted by the record company or by the manager of the group, and some of the assignments came from seeing people socially."
"Sometimes there was a concept for the album, and the photo session was more structured. For the most part, I would meet the group at a certain location and we would just hang out and shoot for several hours. The outfits and clothing of what the group happened to be wearing often became the theme for the shoot. The album cover photo as well as the design would sometimes evolve out of looking at the 35 mm slides projected on a blank album cover. The majority of my rock and roll photos that I have in my archives have never been published. As I go through all these images I see the photographs with more objectivity, and I want to share them." -Tom Gundlefinger O'Neal